How important is the right business coach?


Do they need to be the same as you? Have the experience you want to gain? Or be in the same sector that you are/want to be in?

These are all questions, among many more that you may be asking yourself when either being approached by a business coach, while you're talking to one or even after you have had your session.

While broadening my network of contacts, I took the decision to seek coaching from an experienced individual who is not only influential in the circles I would love to be involved in, but more so I feel like he understands what I am trying to achieve.

We can't get on with everybody in life and there a few people with whom you have a distinct understanding and even fewer who tell you that you remind them of themselves. When I first met my coach I had genuine reservations, not because he didn't have the relevant experience or ability to adapt his style but because he told me what I didn't want to hear on the day in question.

So what should you expect from a coach? Are they there to empathise with you and give emotional support if your business is failing? Not always. Are they there to tell you what you want to hear? Definitely not. Are they there to ask you more questions than give answers? Yes

It is my view that you should be able to be as selective with your business coach as you would be your life partner. This person is there to provide you with what you need to enhance yourself as an individual and help you succeed, it is their privilege to work with you as much as it is yours to have their help.

One of the main driving factors for me was someone that had the ability to view life from perspectives that I didn't.

My tips of what to look for in a good and effective coach are as follows:

  • They should be there as an ongoing supporter fitting around the time you have
  • They should keep their end of the bargain and follow-up on deliverables; this isn't just about you doing things so they can tick a few boxes
  • Provide feedback on signs of development
  • Ask for your opinion on the relationship as and when appropriate
  • Be willing to provide you with face to face coaching rather than distance
  • They should be able to provide other contacts in their network for you to meet
  • Agree on the outcomes of coaching; there is no point in a coach telling you how you should change if it not what you want or are comfortable with

Now some less conventional ones...

  • Be capable of getting you emotive; after all what use is a coach that can't establish what makes you passionate
  • Be there to learn something from you! No coach is perfect and every person is unique, they are there to learn from you as well

Overall would I say coaching is worthwhile? Yes. But only if you can find the right individual to unlock your potential. Use them wisely, your time with them is limited; preparation, follow-up and continual self-reflection is the key to making it worthwhile. You should always end a session asking yourself more questions than when you went in. You should be considering how you can use what you have spoken about to enhance your own way of working and that of others.

As a coach to small businesses and the colleagues I work with, it is vital I try to stick to these rules as much as possible. It is difficult sometimes to jump from one side of the fence to the other but it is also rewarding, anything I learn I try to pass on. All coaches may drop their focus at one time, but a brief nudge will have the relationship working in the right direction for you both.